Appreciating the art of baloney
By LISA SMITH MOLINARI | Special to Stars and Stripes | Published: July 31, 2020
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, people have sought information to quell fear. Over the past five months, the advice given by “experts” has fluctuated wildly, despite having been given with seemingly well-informed confidence.
By now, I think we realize that it’s all baloney, bunk, BS. No one really knows, “Is it safe for kids to go back to school?” “Can people contract COVID-19 twice?” “Will a vaccine be ready by the end of the year?” “Will this pandemic ever end?” But when the public demands answers, experts must deliver.
In the military community, baloney is not generally tolerated. We respect clear communication, pinpoint accuracy and straight talk. However, months of widespread pontificating about the pandemic has shown that BSing actually requires skill and chutzpah.
Anyone who has been to a golf course has undoubtedly been in the midst of a talented BSer. Or two. Or 27.
Ex: “Now, unless you want to chili dip that thing into the frog hair and risk army-putting another triple bogey, you oughta milk the grip and let the big dog eat,” Chaz quips between swigs of Bloody Mary, leaning heavily on his Cobra driver after duffing two balls into the pond.
The Golf BSer may not be good at the sport, but his commitment to the craft of baloney-slinging is undeniable. Imagine the hours spent perusing Golf Digest in the proctologist’s waiting room to memorize golf terminology. The thousands spent on trendy golf equipment and over-priced, insignia-embroidered, moisture-wicking golf apparel to overcompensate for his lack of skills. The sunburns he endures while secretly tanning in his backyard wearing his golf glove, so he can sport a characteristic golfer’s pale left hand. Now that’s dedication.
Lawyers, politicians, car salesmen and stockbrokers are branded, sometimes unfairly, as BSers, because they are paid to have all the answers whether they do or not.
Ex: “You see, George, your mutual funds tanked last quarter due to the unprecedented negative rumors of predicted speculations, so I’d be inclined to take the long view here,” a financial adviser might hedge to keep his client confused enough to continue forking over his life savings.
But this questionable style of communication is not reserved for fast-talking professions alone. Even the well-intentioned must sometimes BS. Unable to say, “I don’t know” to her incessantly curious first grade students, my mother mastered the skill of bluffing as a first grade teacher, making stuff up on the fly to answer questions like, “Why is the ocean blue?” and “Why does Mrs. Fletcher have a mustache?”
Graduate students must also maintain their reputation for knowing everything there is to know about everything. Take a stroll through any campus quad across this nation, and you will see them with their longish hair, graded term papers in hand, leaning against ivy-covered walls, arguing over whether or not the international relations theory of holistic constructivism is a useful tool in analyzing the efficacy of postwar U.S. foreign policy.
And all those people in Starbucks deserve some recognition here, too, from the employee with the nose piercing who steams the non-fat milk for your double espresso macchiato, to the metrosexual with the European scarf who ordered a chai tea, to the yoga-pant-wearing mom in her SUV yelling into the drive-thru window. Essentially, anyone who has uttered the word “Vente” or referred to something with 20 grams of sugar as “skinny” is a card-carrying BSer, whether she likes it or not.
Even parents are masterful BSers. Think about it — what does Dad say when his 6-year-old daughter looks adoringly into his eyes and asks, “Daddy, where do babies come from?” And what baloney must Mom come up with to explain what happened to Gus the Guppy who was last seen napping on the bottom of the tank?
Let’s face it — we are a nation of baloney-slingers, and it’s about time we wake up and smell the Grande iced latte. Let’s finally give BSing the respect it deserves!
And if you believed that, I’ve got some really nice swampland in Florida to sell you.